As one of the most visited countries in the world, France is a great choice of place to visit (and to retire in). It’s known for its amazing wines, food, and great sense of fashion but there is so much more to explore and learn about France. Whether you’re planning your next trip to France or buying a property, there are many things that you must bear in mind when travelling to the country of love or wine, depending on who you’re asking. We asked one of our native French-speaking teachers for advice on what you must know if you’re planning a trip to France. Here are their tips:
1. Be aware of the public holidays in the summer months
There are two public holidays, Friday 14th July and Tuesday 15th August, so, make sure you check places are open before you go.
The French will enjoy a day off and watch the military parades marching through the main streets of cities and towns. There will be events in the local park with food stalls, live bands, dance floors, and fireworks.
2. France isn’t just Paris!
France doesn’t begin and end in Paris. It has a lot to offer with a whole host of different micro-climates and cultures. The whole population is not rude, so take the time to understand the French lifestyle. If you have time, try to explore the countryside (make sure you know your ‘Salut!’ and ‘Excusez-moi!’).
Small towns and villages in France are known for being charming. If you’re travelling to Paris this summer but are quite interested in seeing something a bit different, we would recommend a day trip to Mont Saint-Michel. Just make sure you go all the way to the top. You can thank us later!
3. Parlez FranÇais! (Speak French!)
Don’t assume everybody speaks English. We know English is considered the language of the world (1, 452 billion speakers), but the French take great pride in their language and often show appreciation when foreigners make an effort to speak it. The truth is, outside the hospitality industry and the main touristic places, most French people don’t speak nor understand English, especially in villages and smaller towns.
If you’re not a great linguist or you don’t have enough time until your next trip to France, we advise you, at least, to try learning basic expressions in French, such as ‘Bonjour’, ‘Merci’ and ‘Excusez-Moi’. Have you got some spare time before your next travels? Check out our French Introduction Courses. You’d be surprised how helpful some expressions and cultural little tricks can be when interacting with locals.
4. ATM Machines
This is one of the things you must know when you’re travelling to France. When you get cash from an ATM outside a bank, make sure you ask for lower denominations notes as banks don’t always have cash on hand and their staff won’t change your large 100+ Euros unless you are a customer.
5. Exchange and Return Goods
If you wish to exchange or return goods bought in a French supermarket, make sure you go back to the same place. For example, the French supermarket Carrefour has many branches nationwide, but each branch trades independently.
6. Opening Times
Set mealtimes are important, so many shops and services close for lunch. Restaurants usually open between 12 and 14:30, and between 19:30 and 21:30 for dinner. As a rule, book your table and arrive at the restaurant before 13:00 or 20:00.
7. The emergency number is 112.
In Europe, the emergency phone number is slightly different. It’s something we always recommend memorising before travelling or moving abroad. You can use a landline, mobile phone, and even a pay phone to contact the paramedics or the police!
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